The war on terror will continue long after Iraq and Afghanistan are stable, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told military officials from around the world Friday.
Speaking at the Global Terrorism and International Cooperation Symposium, Pace called for patience and collaboration, repeating U.S. assertions that it will be a long campaign.
“Iraq and Afghanistan will over time become stable,” he said in a keynote address. “But the war on terror will continue long after Iraq and Afghanistan have had success in standing up their own governments.”
Pace also told the crowd that military action alone will not be enough. Economic growth, good education systems and solid governments also are necessary to quell terrorism.
“We are talking about years and years to come of vigilance,” said Pace, “Today’s tactical victory does not guarantee tomorrow’s strategic success.”
Earlier in an interview with NTV, a Turkish all-news television station, Pace fielded questions about the U.S. military’s progress in Iraq, and when troops will be withdrawn. He repeated the Pentagon’s assertion that any withdrawal will be based on conditions in Iraq.
Pace: No plans to attack Iran
He also said the U.S. military is not taking any steps to invade Iran, saying, “there is a lot more to be done before we consider military action.”
Asked whether the United States will do more to help Turkey fight the PKK, a terrorist organization that has long been a problem here, particularly along the border with Iraq, Pace said the government in Iraq must be stabilized before anything can be done.
Guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, have recently escalated their attacks in the region. A bomb set off by a suspected Kurdish suicide bomber earlier this month killed two people and injured 19 in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast.
PKK terrorists also operate within Iraq’s borders, and he said the United States and other countries are working to help Turkey, but he would not go into details.
“Any attacks against the PKK in Iraq are going to have to wait until the security situation in Iraq is more stable,” Pace said.
During the interview, Pace also addressed a recent movie that has been very popular in Turkey, which shows American soldiers in Iraq crashing a wedding, pumping a little boy full of lead in front of his mother, and randomly gunning down dozens of people.
“Valley of the Wolves: Iraq,” also reportedly fuels anti-Americanism by showing Turkish troops defeating American troops.
“It’s pure fiction,” Pace said. “We’re friends. Any movie ... that would try to paint a different picture in a way that would harm the relations between our two countries is unfortunate.”
Call for greater intelligence sharing
In an interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Pace said the United States and other countries must do a better job of sharing intelligence to be more effective in the campaign against terrorism.
“They are certainly trying to come to grips with how much intelligence they can share,” Pace said Thursday in an interview aboard a plane flying from Saudi Arabia to Turkey. “Each country has its own way of collecting data and they need to protect how they do that. But the data they collect can be very important to other countries.”
On the eve of counterterrorism meetings in Ankara, Pace said the two-day session will let officials trade information about how individual countries are dealing with terrorism. That should give others ideas on what works and what doesn’t, he said.
Pace said Saudi Arabia has been successful lately tracking down an al-Qaida cell. Countries are trying to figure out how much intelligence can be shared, and how quickly, he said.
The Saudis, he said, have probably used “some techniques and procedures that will be helpful to other countries.”
He noted that much of the discussions on intelligence sharing, among a host of high-raking officials from countries around the region, will be done in small groups and not publicly shared.
The sessions Friday featured officials from countries that are battling terrorism, including Afghanistan and Turkey. Pace said countries that don’t feel threatened by terror will have different views than those that do.